Outer Banks Field Trip Descriptions
|Friday, January 26||Saturday, January 27|
|Trip #1||Pelagic 6:00AM (approx.) (See update below.) ||
|Enroute to Nags Head||Half-day Morning|
arrival in Nags Head||Half-day Afternoon|
|For trips marked with *, you will need to carpool in a 4-WD vehicle. Please specify on your registration form if you will be driving one.|
A special Digiscoping Seminar will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. in the host hotel's meeting room. Stop by to learn how to take pictures with a spotting scope (or even binoculars!) and a digital camera. Even if you are familiar with the process, you may pick up pointers on improving focus, depth of field, and overall picture quality!
(This seminar is canceled)
Winter Meeting Field Trip Descriptions
This meeting's field trip leaders are not just guides familiar with the geography, but are also experts who will make the experience more rewarding. Trips 2–5 listed below for Friday are to birding hot spots which are fairly conveniently located in relation to routes leading to Kill Devil Hills. Trips 7, 9 and 10 are recommended for those taking Saturday's pelagic trip.
Important Notice: South Pond on Pea Island is usually off-limits to everyone except National Wildlife Refuge Personnel. We are privileged to make several visits to South Pond because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing us with designated guides at the times specified in the trip descriptions below.
Going into South Pond at any other time is strictly forbidden. Also, as a matter of ethics, it is requested that
Saturday morning birding at Hatteras Point be limited to those participating in organized, scheduled trips. People birding "on their own" could easily spook the gull flocks and spoil the day for others. They should plan to go in the afternoon.
Friday Field Trips
- Trip No. 1: Pelagic Trip
- See the details outlined above. Departure point and time for the Stormy Petrel will be dependent on the weather. If the trip must be cancelled due to
weather, there will be no alternate day for the trip. (This is a correction
from previously published information.)
- Trip No. 2: Goldsboro Sewage Lagoons
- This area is predictably productive in winter. There will be a good variety of waterfowl, and it is the only place in North Carolina where Eared Grebes are reliably present. For those coming on Highway 70 from the west, after reaching Goldsboro, turn right onto Highway 117 South. Proceed 3.3 miles and turn left onto SR 581 (Arrington Bridge Rd.) and cross the Neuse River at 1.5 mi. Immediately past the bridge, turn off on a drive to the right where you will meet your guide. There should be plenty of birds to scope out between 9:00 a.m. until noon. Please note that participants will be required to adhere to the facilities policies and sign a release form prior to entry.
- Trip No. 3: Mattamuskeet NWR
- Mattamuskeet is legendary in regard to the variety and numbers of wintering waterfowl. Also in recent years, quite a variety of
passerines have been found lingering in the thick vegetation at the refuge–especially along the causeway across the lake. Either species of eagle is a possibility as well. Your trip leader will meet you at 9 a.m. at the refuge headquarters (located along the entrance road off of Highway 94 just north of the intersection with Highway 264; look for the refuge sign just before 94 crosses the lake).
- Trip No. 4: Pungo National Wildlife Refuge
- With any luck, the huge flock of Snow Geese will be in the fields near Pungo Lake, and among them is the best chance of spotting a Ross's or a Greater White-fronted Goose–both North Carolina rarities. Golden Eagles have also been found at Pungo. Last year a small group of "Cackling" Geese was found here as well. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears too. It way be a good idea to catch lunch in Washington, NC before proceeding east on highway 264 to the community of Pantego, where you will meet your guide at the corner of Highways 264 and 99 North for a 12:00 noon departure.
- Trip No. 5: Lake Phelps/Pocosin Lakes NWR
- Meet your guide at 1:00 p.m. at the Tyson Farms grain elevators. This spot is reached by turning to the right (south) off US 64 at Roper onto Newland Road (SR 1126) and going about seven miles to the intersection of SR 1183.
The field edges in this area can produce some of the rarer sparrows. Lapland Longspurs have been found, and Lake Phelps often has a flock of Common Mergansers. This area is also a winter home to Short-eared Owls; but staying until dusk to see the owls will cause one to be rather late reaching Kill Devil Hills, 80+ miles distant.
- Trip No. 6: Alligator River NWR
- Meet at 1:00 p.m. at the paved parking lot where Milltail Road
meets US 64 in mainland Dare County, about three miles west of the new bridge over Pamlico Sound. Bird the Creef Cut Trail to an observation platform overlooking the wildlife management area. The thick vegetation along the roads through the refuge has produced a good number of rarer sparrows the past few winters. Drive Long Curve Road and keep your eyes peeled for possible vagrant flycatchers such as Western or Ash-throated, which have both been found here in recent years. Search carefully and you may spot a Rough-legged Hawk amongst the Northern Harriers. Also there is a good chance of seeing a Short-eared Owl along Milltail Road close to dusk.
- Trip No. 7: Hatteras Point
- Meet your guide at the southwestern end of the new lighthouse parking lot
at 1:00 p.m. The convoy will cover the Point Campground and the Salt Pond in addition to the beach. Extensive driving should result in an assortment of interesting gulls, shorebirds and waterfowl. A Peregrine Falcon is often present in or on the dunes during the winter months. Bird Pea Island on the return to Nag's Head.
- Trip No. 8: Buxton Woods
- Meet your guide at the Buxton Park Service Ranger Station at 1:00 p.m. You will bird on foot along trails and roads around The Point. Wrens, sparrows, and warblers as well as waterfowl and wading birds abound in these thickly vegetated areas. A variety of raptors and woodpeckers may be found at the edges and Red-breasted Nuthatch is possible in the old loblolly pine stands.
- Trip No. 9: Pea Island (South Pond and North Pond)
- Leave the Ramada Inn parking lot at 1:00 p.m. and caravan to Pea Island
to be met by a US Fish & Wildlife Service designated guide before proceeding further.
Do not park on the soft highway shoulders unless driving a 4-WD and do not enter
until the official guide is present. See admonition above under "Notice." After
birding South Pond, turn around and bird North Pond down to the entrance road to
South Pond dikes. If time permits, stop by parking lot at south side of Oregon
Inlet Bridge or Bodie Island pond
on return to the hotel.
- Trip No. 10: Bodie Island/Pea Island
- Meet at the parking lot at Bodie
Island Lighthouse (Map)
at 1:30 p.m. and survey the Bodie Island Pond for shorebirds, waders and
waterfowl. Walk the gravel roads and trails to look for nuthatches, wintering
warblers and other Passerines. A pair of Great Horned Owls may be present in the
tall pines west of the lighthouse. Cross Oregon Inlet and go to the parking lot
at the old Coast Guard station to look for Purple Sandpipers and sea ducks. Then
head to the north and south dikes at North Pond.
- Trip No. 11: Nags Head Woods
- Depart the hotel parking lot at 1:30 p.m. for the Nature Conservancy's Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. The 1,200 acre property is one of the largest and most well-preserved maritime forests remaining in the east. Unique to the barrier island ecosystem, it is home to numerous species of reptiles and amphibians, mammals and invertebrates in addition to birds. Hike the trails looking for wintering woodland birds in some of the oldest and largest trees on the island. You will also have the unique opportunity to bird the open dunes and intra-dunal ponds and wetlands.
Saturday Field Trips
- Trip No. 12: Pelagic Trip
- See the details outlined above. Departure point and time for the Stormy Petrel will be dependent on the weather.
If the trip must be cancelled due to weather, it will be rescheduled for Sunday.
(This is a correction from previously published information.)
- Trip No. l3: Hatteras Point/Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry/Pea Island. (All-day)
- Depart the hotel parking lot at 7:00 a.m. and reassemble at the southwestern end of the new lighthouse parking lot (east of Buxton–Map)
at 8:00 a.m. to bird Hatteras Point (4-WD only on the beach).
There is the possibility of rare gulls on the point and a good variety of waterfowl on the salt pond. Catch the ferry from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke
and try to turn around and return on the same ferry, Should see a variety of
birds, including perhaps Brant, Oldsquaw and Red-throated Loon, from ferry. Bird
North Pond and south side of Oregon Inlet in the afternoon,
- Trip No. 14: Pea Island/Hatteras Point/Pea Island. (All-day)
- Depart the hotel parking lot at 7:15 a.m. and proceed to South Pond.
See admonition under "Notice'" above. Depart South Pond in time to arrive at the southwestern end of the new lighthouse parking lot (east of Buxton–Map)
at 10:30 a.m. and bird Hatteras Point. After a lunch break return to bird North
Pond and Bodie Island pond in the afternoon.
- Trip No. 15: Oregon Inlet/Pea Island/Hatteras Point. (All-day)
- Depart hotel parking lot at 7:30 a.m. and bird north and south dikes of North Pond.
Meet guide at South Pond at 10:00 a.m. See admonition
above under "Notice." Depart South Pond in time to arrive at the southwestern end of the new lighthouse parking area (east of Buxton) by 12:30 p.m. to bird Hatteras Point. Return north to park at the old Coast Guard station parking lot and bird south of Oregon Inlet.
- Trip No. 16: Oregon Inlet/North Pond. (Half-day)
- Depart hotel parking lot at 7:00 a.m. and go to old Coast Guard Station
parking lot to bird the south side of Oregon Inlet including the breakwater for
Purple Sandpiper, eiders, etc.). Then bird north and south dikes of North Pond. Oceanwatch opposite the North Pond visitor's center.
- Trip No. 17: Bodie Island/Pea Island. (Half-day)
- Depart hotel parking lot at 7:15 a.m. and bird Bodie
Island pond and trails. Proceed to the marina and south side of Oregon Inlet to
look for sparrows and wading birds in the marsh. Bird North Pond until about noon.
- Trip No. 18: Nags Head/Wanchese. (Half-day)
- Assemble at hotel parking lot at 7:30 a.m. and walk over to the beach side to ocean watch. Early a.m. is the most productive time for loons, grebes (possibly Red-necked), gannets, scoters, etc. Then drive to Wanchese Harbor
where your experienced guide will help you polish your gull id skills. The group may make another stop or two at local hotspots in between.
- Trip No. 19: Bodie Island/Pea Island. (Half-day)
- Same as Trip No. 17 departing from the hotel parking lot at 1:00 p.m.
- Trip No. 20: Wanchese/Nags Head. (Half-day)
- Same as Trip No. 18 departing from the hotel parking lot at 1:30 p.m.
- Trip No. 21: Alligator River NWR. (Half-day)
- Same as Trip No. 6 departing from the hotel parking lot at 1:30 p.m.
Sunday Field Trips
- Trip No. 22: Palmetto-Peartree Preserve and J. Morgan Futch Game Lands. (half day)
- Depart the hotel parking lot at 7:30 a.m. and head west across the
Pamlico Sound and Alligator River to the NC Wildlife Commission's Futch Game Lands. Walk the dikes to survey the waterfowl resting there as well as sort though sparrow flocks in the marshy areas adjacent to the impoundments. Along with a few species of wading birds and shorebirds, Orange-crowned Warbler can often be found here. Drive a short distance to The Conservation Fund's
Palmetto-Peartree Preserve on the Albemarle Sound to search for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.
Other Sunday trips to be announced based on Saturday's results.